New England Hospitals Stop Reporting Newborns With Drugs In System Because It "Disproportionately Affects Black Individuals"

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Apr 05, 2024 - 12:00 AM

A New England hospital system has stopped automatically filing state welfare reports when a baby is born with drugs in its system, because it "disproportionately affects black individuals."

Put another way, the Mass General Brigham Hospital system is disproportionately failing to protect black babies from their addict parents, in what they claim is a move to address "racial and ethnic inequities" present in healthcare.

Instead of automatically reporting suspected abuse or neglect to the state based solely on whether a newborn tests positive for drugs, hospitals will now require written consent from said drug-addicts in order to conduct a test on the expectant mother or infant, in most cases, 10 Boston reports.

What's more, the testing would only be ordered if the results could change a doctor's medical approach to their care, adds.

Mass General Brigham said babies born with “substance exposure” alone will no longer be immediately reported to state welfare agencies unless there are other concerns the baby is abused or neglected. People can be treated with methadone or buprenorphine for opioid use disorder, which can be prescribed during pregnancy.

The hospital said studies show that Black pregnant people are more likely to be drug tested and reported to welfare agencies than white pregnant people.

Perhaps that's a function of the demographics of drug use?

The new policy, announced on Tuesday, will apply to locations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, including obstetrics and gynecology wards at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, and Salem Hospital.

The change will be implemented later this month.

According to Mass General Brigham’s Senior Medical Director for Substance Use Disorder Sarah Wakeman, the new policy is "based on sound science."

"Our new perinatal testing and reporting policy is the latest step in our efforts to address longstanding inequities in substance use disorder care and to provide compassionate, evidence-based support to families, while addressing substance use disorder as a treatable health condition," she said.